Roland Burris, master of understatement. When the manufacturer of the cough syrup Triaminic cut its active ingredient in half and labeled the result “new and improved,” 31 state attorneys general, including Illinois’ Roland Burris, fought and won a settlement against Sandoz Pharmaceuticals. Burris’s comment: “This change stretches the definition of ‘improved’ to the very limits.”

“The defense of the [Maxwell Street] market has been left to outsiders, each with their own agendas and some of whom are screwballs,” writes Ed Zotti in Chicago Enterprise (July/August). “This was all too evident at a recent colloquium on Maxwell Street sponsored by UIC’s Hillel Center. The panels of experts could offer little practical advice on saving the market as it exists today–one focused on Maxwell’s history as a great Jewish marketplace, quoting statistics from the census of 1910; another talked about preserving historic buildings and creating an outdoor museum after the market had disappeared. Would-be market organizers made rambling speeches. One audience member said what the market really needed was a monorail; another recommended looking into its archaeology. Downstairs, an earnest young fellow displayed posters urging that Maxwell Street be converted to a ‘green industry production zone’ complete with solar collectors, rooftop gardens and something rather ominously called a ‘re-education center.'”

Without WARNing. After a study of plant closings and layoffs in eleven states including Illinois, the Government Accounting Office reports (February) that companies required under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act to give their workers advance notice of a closing or layoff did so less than half the time.

Dept. of politically incorrect questions, asked by Jerry Watts in a Boston Review (January-February) debate over the formation of yet another leftist third party: “The task of the New Party should be in part to facilitate the political expression of many Americans who are not represented in established electoral arenas. But there is little reason to assume that the voice of economically and culturally disenfranchised Americans is going to be politically progressive. Does the New Party have the responsibility for helping poor, conservative blacks obtain a political voice?”

Peaceable statistics. Total number of mediations conducted by the Center for Conflict Resolution on East Jackson, 1980-1989: 3,130. In 1990-1992: 3,321.

“Empowerment, not social service provider,” is how the Housing Resource Center of the Jane Addams Hull House Association describes its role as a private manager of scattered-site public housing in the BPI Newsletter (Summer). “The organization decided early on that it could not serve as a social service agency. Instead the organization concentrates on empowering residents to solve their own problems. When one tenant, for example, called [manager Sue] Brady to say her garbage hadn’t been picked up, Brady gave her the number of the Department of Streets and Sanitation. ‘I can’t call them,’ the woman protested. But Brady insisted and within a few minutes the woman called back, astounded that the Department had actually said they would come out.”

Battle of the Ball Clubs: Both Chicago baseball teams played at home last Monday night, both against the sixth-place team in the opposite division. Attendance: fourth-place, going-nowhere Cubs, 38,547; first-place, playoff-contending White Sox, 32,431.

Right and left united against women is the scene Ann Maloney and Stephen Heaney describe in Sisterlife (Spring), a prolife feminist newsletter: “Washingbon [is] peopled with Democrats who push for women’s rights by pushing for abortion and who fight against any type of restriction…to the point of being against even informed consent…and of refusing to force abortion clinics to report the incidences of complications and abortion-related deaths to the Centers for Disease Control. At the other end of the spectrum are the Republicans intent on abolishing abortion, but equally intent on eliminating programs that afford women meaningful options, slashing WIC programs, and voting down every family leave bill that comes their way. The result is that women are victimized from both sides.”

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.